About four months ago, I decided to change careers and end a long-term relationship. Those first two months I was on what I like to call a “change high.” I was so overwhelmed and in love with the new wonderful opportunities in my life. I felt so energized and full of life.
But then that third month arrived, and something slowly started changing. I felt exhausted all of the time. I stopped eating and exercising on a regular basis. I slept more and cancelled on social plans. What used to take me 30 minutes to do then took an hour. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning and constantly found myself running late for my job. My blood sugar levels were harder and harder to control, and I felt sick most of the time. I lost interest in all activities that once brought me joy. My social anxiety returned. A lot of anxiety returned. I overreacted to the littlest things at work and at home. I no longer felt confident in my direction.
I am still emerging from that hole of hopelessness. I cannot explain what exactly pinpointed such a depressive episode. But a few weeks ago, I started reaching out to family, friends and colleagues. I started being honest about how I felt about a lot of things. And rather than be met with scrutiny, I was met with support.
I still have that support. And on truly harrowing days it’s that support that really gets me through. In the meantime, I’m taking the time to explore opportunities and challenges. What is it about my current circumstances that make me feel so value-less and useless? What can I do to change that, regardless of the risks?
I’m not one to feel alive waiting in line for the rollercoaster. I feel alive when I am on the rollercoaster and crossing that first hill and putting my hands in the air. And I’d like to share this journey with you. I don’t have all the answers. But I recognize we are not alone in our struggles and only by connecting can we really, truly feel alive.
I’m planning to post more on this blog over the next month. And to give you a glimpse of the past six weeks, here are a few short episodes.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:10 a.m. ET
I wake up with a heavy chest and a fast-beating heart. I don’t need to check my CGM. I know my blood sugar is dropping and fast. I do not turn on the lights. I stumble down the hallway from my bedroom to the kitchen. I drink a glass of orange juice. My body is shaking. I feel weak so I grab the bowl of candy on the counter and sit down at the dining room table. I lay into those wrappers, stuffing my mouth with M&M’s, Snickers and Milky Ways. Good thing I bought the family size bag at Costco.
My mind goes blank. I keep eating but I can’t remember my thoughts. I don’t know who I am and where I am. I know I am alive. I register the shape of the couch in front of me and the dark brown tablecloth. But I cannot put a name to their shape. I cannot comprehend what I am seeing, only process.
Then my blood sugar rises. And my thoughts come back. I remember I was thinking about my job and how I should take better care of my diabetes. My name is Tracy. It is the middle of the night. I throw away the candy wrappers and put the bowl back on the counter. I turn off the lights, brush my teeth and crawl back into bed.
Friday, April 21, 2017 9:40 a.m. ET
An email sets me off. I grab my phone and leave the office. I walk into the humid air of downtown DC. Just a couple blocks south is the White House but I walk west. I cannot escape the jack hammers of construction or the overused horns of traffic. I turn down 15th Street and then right on I street. I keep walking. I don’t know where I am going. I am already sweating in this gray cardigan. But I keep it on. I’m not ready to reveal my tank top underneath.
I think about calling someone. My tear-filled eyes are hidden behind cheap sunglasses I picked up at a DC festival a few years ago advertising the street car. I leave my phone in my back pocket and focus on the crosswalk ahead. I feel awkward and useless standing at the intersection and waiting for the light. I see business people and residents alike but I avoid eye contact. I see broken asphalt and newly painted lines. I step on those lines.
When I finally turn around and head back in the direction of my work place, I am still holding back tears. I feel less angry, just disappointed. What happened to make me so dissatisfied with life? What happened to completely deplete my energy? What happened to make me loathe the morning sun?
What happened? I arrive back at the office sweaty and exhausted. I prepare myself for the next hour and half of meetings. I still want to cry.
Sunday, April 23, 2017 3:30 p.m. ET
I make it to Rock Creek Park. Fuck 16th Street for its hills and fuck me for an out-of-shape body. I run faster than I should down the trail. I could trip on any one of these uprooted branches and twist my ankle or worse break my leg. What would I do then?
I turn down my music. The trail is quiet. Spring is alive. But these 50-degree temperatures persist. I make it to a steady pass and run along the creek, watching for tree roots and critters. I envy this solitude even if it took me hours to get out of the apartment today. I avoid eye contact with passersby.
It doesn’t rain. The sun comes out every few minutes. There is no breeze. I let myself run, as far as I naturally feel like going. I never get lost. I explore new ways of getting home.